Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
I can't believe its been a couple weeks since I've written about something I've read so I thought I'd get back in the grove by writing about Maisie Dobbs and how much I loved it!
I should begin by coming out and admitting that I have a great love for mystery novels. It began in my youth with Nancy Drew, but once I graduated to the queens of the Golden Age of Mystery I was hooked both on the thrill and enjoyment of a good whodunnit and the great writing that has been a hallmark of this genre, even though many argue the fact!
Maisie Dobbs is a continuation of the tradition of Agatha Christie et al. and not only because Maisie is a great British female character. Maisie is a very intelligent, compassionate, insightful, and hardworking woman who has a gentle way of dealing with people whom she is both investigating and employed by. But it's also clear that Winspear has drawn Maisie to be a character with depth, and that we won't completely know her over the course of only one book, but will enjoy getting closer to Maisie over the course of multiple adventures. The plot, characterization, and respect for the reader's intelligence are also present in this book and these are qualities that most modern writers like to ignore to some degree in mystery series.
We're introduced to Maisie as she is beginning her own private investigation agency in 1929 London. She's just starting to break out on her own after an apprenticeship with a man of mystery and multiple talents, Maurice Blanche. She is unflappable, yet realistic about beginning her solo career and the first case she encounters becomes a personal one. When a young husband asks Maisie to investigate the activities of his wife Maisie quickly realizes the wife is not being unfaithful, but is still dealing with the grief over the death of her first love, a veteran of the Great War who returned home badly disfigured and has recently died. Maisie discovers odious clues pointing towards the abuse of disabled veterans in the form of a cult-like retreat centre, and as she investigates further her own time before and during the war is revealed, and it involves a dreamy doctor in the army!
I love this time period and the historic portrayal and details are spot-on. I really do enjoy Maisie as a character thus far as she seems determined yet not pushy, insightful, resourceful, but also humble and youthful. This time period is one of my favourites in literature and the descriptions of the Great War were realistic and riveting. The mystery itself, while not complicated, was an intriguing concept and was structured well which lent to easy yet enraptured reading. The only qualms I have are the hints at a new age-y type of understanding towards psychology and meditation in Maisie's training with Maurice, but only further reading into the series will indicate how prevalent those ideas are to Maisie and her investigative style. I'm hooked on the series, and look forward to enjoying the further adventures of Maisie Dobbs.
Joining the lovely Jessica and other literary ladies at Housewifespice today, under the wire, for What We're Reading Wednesday!
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